Sunderland in for Jozy Altidore?

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Transfer rumors, we all love them.

And sifting though them, at times, can be quite an amusing thing.

But this one popped up in the Shields Gazette in the North East of England and it could interest USMNT fans.

The publication states that Jozy Altidore is on his way to Sunderland after impressing manager Paolo Di Canio with his form for AZ Alkmaar and the US national team.

Sure, plenty of rumors have been flying around about Altidore moving away from Holland next season, but this is a new one.

Of course if Altidore was to make a move to the EPL, it wouldn’t be the first time. Back in 2009-10 Altidore signed for Hull City on a season-long loan deal. But after 28 appearances and just one goal scored, the US forward was widely criticized and moved on to bigger and better things.

So would things be any different this time if Altidore did sign for Sunderland?

Definitely.

Back when Altidore last graced the EPL, we have to remember the New Jersey native was only 19. He was inexperienced, wasn’t feeling the love from parent club Villarreal who had bought him for big money but preferred to loan him out and had to quickly adapt to the rough and tumble of the English game.

(MORE: Altidore to the rescue! And there’s a lot of that going around lately)

All that isn’t easy for an experienced pro to deal with, let alone a rising star thousands of miles from home.

But after his recent breakout for the US national team, and his record-breaking goal scoring exploits in Holland, Altidore could be hoping that a switch to the EPL would work out differently this time.

The report suggesting he is off to Sunderland also claims “half-a-dozen” other Premier League clubs are chasing the in-form striker, who has netted in each of his last four games for the US national team.

Another interesting factor in Altidore’s possible switch to Sunderland, is the presence of US owner Ellis Short. Perhaps he can see Altidore’s presence at Sunderland leading to more exposure for the Wearside club in the US? Commercial prospects could flourish alongside having one of the hottest strikers in the game spearhead Di Canio’s new look side.

(MORE: What Jozy Altidore can learn from Fernando Torres)

In fact the Italian disciplinarian (who is controversial to say the least) and his hardline approach could suit Altidore, who believes his form at AZ is down to the strict and fiery stewardship of manager Gertjan Verbeek.

Anyway, maybe this is just one of those rumors that melts away into the archives of the internet and the newspaper it was printed on will be used as tomorrow nights wrapping paper for fish and chip suppers in England’s North East.

Or maybe, just maybe, Altidore could be on his way to Sunderland for a shot at EPL redemption and to take his career to the next level with club and country.

Now there’s a thought.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution
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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”